It’s human nature to think that just because you have the tools in your possession, you’re solid. Some of us spend a lifetime collecting the world’s best and shiniest tools only to let them sit and gather dust. It doesn’t necessarily matter if you ever use them, having them is what counts. We put these tools on display so that our peers can see how “prepared” and amazing we are, yet when it comes down to it, we’ve probably never even read the instruction manual to most of it. Oh man, with that kind of thinking, it’s no wonder why we struggle as a collective to discern the truth from the fake, good from evil, and so on. Yes, having the tools is a step in the right direction, but how effective can they be if you don’t ever use them?
I could have a state of the art gym in my house. However, if I don’t actually use it, how effective is just having the stuff around? The same concept can be applied to us and the Bible. Ask yourself, how much are you actually reading it? How often are you applying its wisdom to your life? If we spend more time binge-watching our favorite shows or zoning out to our preferred method of escapism, can we really blame the tools? Friends, it’s time that we put our tools to the test and use them to our advantage. The Living Word has a host of benefits that will serve you well all through your life. That said, you can only find that out if you use it.
Are you collecting God’s tools or are you using them?
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1This message came to Jeremiah from the LORD early in the reign of Zedekiah son of Josiah, king of Judah.
2This is what the LORD said to me: “Make a yoke, and fasten it on your neck with leather straps.
3Then send messages to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon through their ambassadors who have come to see King Zedekiah in Jerusalem.
4Give them this message for their masters: ‘This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says:
5With my great strength and powerful arm I made the earth and all its people and every animal. I can give these things of mine to anyone I choose.
6Now I will give your countries to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who is my servant. I have put everything, even the wild animals, under his control.
7All the nations will serve him, his son, and his grandson until his time is up. Then many nations and great kings will conquer and rule over Babylon.
8So you must submit to Babylon’s king and serve him; put your neck under Babylon’s yoke! I will punish any nation that refuses to be his slave, says the LORD . I will send war, famine, and disease upon that nation until Babylon has conquered it.
9“‘Do not listen to your false prophets, fortune-tellers, interpreters of dreams, mediums, and sorcerers who say, “The king of Babylon will not conquer you.”
10They are all liars, and their lies will lead to your being driven out of your land. I will drive you out and send you far away to die.
11But the people of any nation that submits to the king of Babylon will be allowed to stay in their own country to farm the land as usual. I, the LORD, have spoken!’”
12Then I repeated this same message to King Zedekiah of Judah. “If you want to live, submit to the yoke of the king of Babylon and his people.
13Why do you insist on dying—you and your people? Why should you choose war, famine, and disease, which the LORD will bring against every nation that refuses to submit to Babylon’s king?
14Do not listen to the false prophets who keep telling you, ‘The king of Babylon will not conquer you.’ They are liars.
15This is what the LORD says: ‘I have not sent these prophets! They are telling you lies in my name, so I will drive you from this land. You will all die—you and all these prophets, too.’”
16Then I spoke to the priests and the people and said, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Do not listen to your prophets who claim that soon the gold articles taken from my Temple will be returned from Babylon. It is all a lie!
17Do not listen to them. Surrender to the king of Babylon, and you will live. Why should this whole city be destroyed?
18If they really are prophets and speak the LORD ’s messages, let them pray to the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. Let them pray that the articles remaining in the LORD ’s Temple and in the king’s palace and in the palaces of Jerusalem will not be carried away to Babylon!’
19“For the LORD of Heaven’s Armies has spoken about the pillars in front of the Temple, the great bronze basin called the Sea, the water carts, and all the other ceremonial articles.
20King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon left them here when he exiled Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, to Babylon, along with all the other nobles of Judah and Jerusalem.
21Yes, this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says about the precious things still in the Temple, in the palace of Judah’s king, and in Jerusalem:
22‘They will all be carried away to Babylon and will stay there until I send for them,’ says the LORD . ‘Then I will bring them back to Jerusalem again.’”
“Until the day we die, there is always something to learn from God.”~TB
I was writing another blog post just a few moments ago, trying to break down some interesting concepts until I realized that the message wasn’t meant for the blog, but was a new ‘aha’ learning moment for me specifically. I took a minute to chew on it and was filled with joy at the new piece of the puzzle that I was given. To the outside world, I know a lot, but to tell you the truth, I’m also aware of how much I don’t know, which is why I keep pestering God with many, many questions. Fortunately, He is patient and doesn’t seem to mind answering them. Even better, being the Infinite being He is, we all can join in on His lesson plans.
Remarkably, the Bible has so much to say in every season of life. The Living Word is living up to its name, ha! As we go through this world, the wise teachings and stories are parallel to our own experiences, which is why we can glean so much information from one passage in any given era of our life. For example, I’ve read 2 Corinthians many times, yet, the other day, I got something out of it that I had not seen before. It encourages me to keep seeking the Truth in all of its forms because the lessons are neverending, and my relationship with God grows deeper and more joyful each passing day. I do have trying days like anyone else, but the comfort of the Lord makes them much more tolerable.
The Revelation of Reflection
When we quiet the external noise and train our minds to focus, God can then reveal the infinite amount of information that takes more than a lifetime to understand and pontificate on. Just when I think I know all of the statistical permutations, combinations, and variations there are to understand something, God drops another nugget of understanding, giving me something else to learn. The Truth is, we live in a chaotic, backward, deceitful world that benefits when we plug our ears, eyes, minds, and hearts from God. Many of us do not go on to learn and grow with God because of the distraction created by the world we inhabit. Fortunately for us, all we have to do is ask. Then, buckle up for a lifetime journey of learning.
Are you waiting until it’s too late to learn from God?
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1The LORD says, “I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’ to a nation that did not call on my name.
2All day long I opened my arms to a rebellious people. But they follow their own evil paths and their own crooked schemes.
3All day long they insult me to my face by worshiping idols in their sacred gardens. They burn incense on pagan altars.
4At night they go out among the graves, worshiping the dead. They eat the flesh of pigs and make stews with other forbidden foods.
5Yet they say to each other, ‘Don’t come too close or you will defile me! I am holier than you!’ These people are a stench in my nostrils, an acrid smell that never goes away.
6“Look, my decree is written out in front of me: I will not stand silent; I will repay them in full! Yes, I will repay them—
7both for their own sins and for those of their ancestors,” says the LORD . “For they also burned incense on the mountains and insulted me on the hills. I will pay them back in full!
8“But I will not destroy them all,” says the LORD . “For just as good grapes are found among a cluster of bad ones (and someone will say, ‘Don’t throw them all away— some of those grapes are good!’), so I will not destroy all Israel. For I still have true servants there.
9I will preserve a remnant of the people of Israel and of Judah to possess my land. Those I choose will inherit it, and my servants will live there.
10The plain of Sharon will again be filled with flocks for my people who have searched for me, and the valley of Achor will be a place to pasture herds.
11“But because the rest of you have forsaken the LORD and have forgotten his Temple, and because you have prepared feasts to honor the god of Fate and have offered mixed wine to the god of Destiny,
12now I will ‘destine’ you for the sword. All of you will bow down before the executioner. For when I called, you did not answer. When I spoke, you did not listen. You deliberately sinned—before my very eyes— and chose to do what you know I despise.”
13Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “My servants will eat, but you will starve. My servants will drink, but you will be thirsty. My servants will rejoice, but you will be sad and ashamed.
14My servants will sing for joy, but you will cry in sorrow and despair.
15Your name will be a curse word among my people, for the Sovereign LORD will destroy you and will call his true servants by another name.
16All who invoke a blessing or take an oath will do so by the God of truth. For I will put aside my anger and forget the evil of earlier days.
17“Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth, and no one will even think about the old ones anymore.
18Be glad; rejoice forever in my creation! And look! I will create Jerusalem as a place of happiness. Her people will be a source of joy.
19I will rejoice over Jerusalem and delight in my people. And the sound of weeping and crying will be heard in it no more.
20“No longer will babies die when only a few days old. No longer will adults die before they have lived a full life. No longer will people be considered old at one hundred! Only the cursed will die that young!
21In those days people will live in the houses they build and eat the fruit of their own vineyards.
22Unlike the past, invaders will not take their houses and confiscate their vineyards. For my people will live as long as trees, and my chosen ones will have time to enjoy their hard-won gains.
23They will not work in vain, and their children will not be doomed to misfortune. For they are people blessed by the LORD, and their children, too, will be blessed.
24I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!
25The wolf and the lamb will feed together. The lion will eat hay like a cow. But the snakes will eat dust. In those days no one will be hurt or destroyed on my holy mountain. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
“Walking with God is like having a spiritual diagnostics machine telling you where you need maintenance before major issues occur within yourself.”~TB
I talk to God a lot. He doesn’t seem to mind the billion questions that I have on a recurring basis. My family will tell you, I can talk and theorize a lot, so having a listening ear that doesn’t get exasperated with me is nice. I love talking to God more importantly because of the answers I receive. There are many things that God tells both you and I because He ultimately knows what’s best for us. The Holy Spirit reminds me of a diagnostic tool that is able to assess and alert us for routine care. This involves reading our Bible so that we know the Truth and the devil cannot entrap us in a lie. Another way is being good neighbors, so that we do not cause each other to stumble. Most importantly, developing the self-discipline by adhering to the Holy Spirit, which may include eating right, exercising, and not ingesting mental garbage. Your mind, body, and soul are all connected, so what you do to one will affect the others. When you don’t do the routine care, the major issues come up and are pricier and take more time to repair.
Check Engine Light
If you don’t have oil in your car, your engine will blow. That’s not because your car is being mean, it simply means that oil is necessary for the engine to operate functionally. Our relationship to God is quite similar. God doesn’t enforce rules or set boundaries because He’s trying to enslave or control us. No, just like a busted engine, a damaged human spirit causes all kinds of problems. Take it from someone who observes people like a doctorate dissertation. When we’re willfully broken, we’ll be the first to claim all is well, but if you look a little deeper, our spirits are quite damaged. Fortunately for us, the Holy Mechanic that is God does not price gouge us when we blow our spiritual engines. All we have to do is to turn back from our foolishness and restart out routine maintenance. So the next time your check engine light is on, have a talk with the Holy Mechanic, I hear He gives great deals on repairs.
Do you practice routine care or are you routinely spiritually broken?
Enjoy the reading
1About that time Hezekiah became deathly ill, and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to visit him. He gave the king this message: “This is what the LORD says: ‘Set your affairs in order, for you are going to die. You will not recover from this illness.’”
2When Hezekiah heard this, he turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD,
3“Remember, O LORD, how I have always been faithful to you and have served you single-mindedly, always doing what pleases you.” Then he broke down and wept bitterly.
4Then this message came to Isaiah from the LORD :
5“Go back to Hezekiah and tell him, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of your ancestor David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will add fifteen years to your life,
6and I will rescue you and this city from the king of Assyria. Yes, I will defend this city.
7“‘And this is the sign from the LORD to prove that he will do as he promised:
8I will cause the sun’s shadow to move ten steps backward on the sundial of Ahaz!’” So the shadow on the sundial moved backward ten steps.
9When King Hezekiah was well again, he wrote this poem:
10I said, “In the prime of my life, must I now enter the place of the dead? Am I to be robbed of the rest of my years?”
11I said, “Never again will I see the LORD GOD while still in the land of the living. Never again will I see my friends or be with those who live in this world.
12My life has been blown away like a shepherd’s tent in a storm. It has been cut short, as when a weaver cuts cloth from a loom. Suddenly, my life was over.
13I waited patiently all night, but I was torn apart as though by lions. Suddenly, my life was over.
14Delirious, I chattered like a swallow or a crane, and then I moaned like a mourning dove. My eyes grew tired of looking to heaven for help. I am in trouble, Lord. Help me!”
15But what could I say? For he himself sent this sickness. Now I will walk humbly throughout my years because of this anguish I have felt.
16Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live!
17Yes, this anguish was good for me, for you have rescued me from death and forgiven all my sins.
18For the dead cannot praise you; they cannot raise their voices in praise. Those who go down to the grave can no longer hope in your faithfulness.
19Only the living can praise you as I do today. Each generation tells of your faithfulness to the next.
20Think of it—the LORD is ready to heal me! I will sing his praises with instruments every day of my life in the Temple of the LORD .
21Isaiah had said to Hezekiah’s servants, “Make an ointment from figs and spread it over the boil, and Hezekiah will recover.”
22And Hezekiah had asked, “What sign will prove that I will go to the Temple of the LORD ?”